Falcons are easy highlight in Atlanta’s dark sports weekend

Roddy White jumps on Julio Jones' shoulders after the rookie receiver's 18-yard touchdown catch gave Falcons a 14-10 lead early in the fourth quarter. (AP photo)

Roddy White jumps on Julio Jones' shoulders after Jones' 18-yard touchdown catch gave the Falcons a 14-10 lead early in the fourth quarter. (AP photo)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After another playoff cameo role by the Braves on Friday and the ugliness by whatever remains of Georgia and Georgia Tech on a college football Saturday, the Falcons didn’t need to accomplish much Sunday to achieve some degree of popularity.

Almost anything north of humiliation would’ve been an improvement.

They provided more than that. They won.

They weren’t great. The quarterback threw a pick-six in the second quarter. A fumbled snap ended their next possession. The offense made the NFL’s 29th ranked defense look almost impressive at times. The defense allowed Washington’s far lesser of two rookie quarterbacks, Kirk Cousins to throw a 77-yard touchdown pass (and he hadn’t taken a snap all season).

So they weren’t perfect. Or close. And yet: They’re still perfect.

They rallied with a 17-point fourth quarter to beat the Washington Redskins 24-17.

They are 5-0 for the first time in franchise history — this after being 4-0 for only the third time in franchise history. Suddenly, they are punching through ceilings.

Are they great? No. It’s a little early to phone Don Shula and ask if he’s worried about the Falcons posing a threat to the 1972 Miami Dolphins. (Hey, once you win five, how tough can 11 more be?) But in the last two games against Carolina and Washington, the Falcons managed to pull out victories in games where they seemed less than whole. That is something that really good (and potentially great) teams do.

“I’ve said since the beginning of the season that this is the best team I’ve been on as a Falcon,” said tight end Tony Gonzalez. “It might be the best team I’ve ever been on as a player. But it doesn’t mean anything? No. It feels good to be 5-0, but I’ve been 9-0 and lost in the first round of the playoffs [in Kansas City in 2003]. So we just have to go one week at a time. I know that doesn’t sound sexy but it is what it is. We’ve got a target on our back now.”

The Falcons: The hunted. Let that sink in. There’s only one other unbeaten team left — Houston (4-0), which plays Monday night.

When the NFL schedule has stretched into the second month and a team still hasn’t lost, nit-picking should be held to a minimum.

“They’re playing with a tenacity I haven’t seen in the last couple of years,” said former running back Warrick Dunn, now one of the team’s minority owners. “They’re playing with aggressiveness. When you win games where you really don’t play that great, it’s a positive sign. It shows that you can respond to adversity. That means something as you move down the road and the games get bigger.”

The Falcons sputtered offensively until late in the third quarter. The exception was Gonzalez, who had one of those just-stupid-great games: 13 catches, 123 yards, one touchdown, as a 36-year-old. The Redskins were intent on bracketing Roddy White and Julio Jones on the outside but they couldn’t do anything about Gonzalez in the belly of their defense.

In the Falcons’ first five possessions, they had three punts and two turnovers. They had only seven points after eight drives, but started to take over late in the third.

“What do you want talk to us for — we stunk,” White joked when media approached.

Not coincidentally, the momentum shifted  after Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III was knocked out of the game by Sean Weatherspoon. (It was a clean hit: Weatherspoon crashed into Griffin as the rookie ran out of the pocket and was sliding down. The back of Griffin’s head appear to come down on Jonathan Babineaux, causing a concussion.) Cousins took advantage of a breakdown in the secondary, throwing a 77-yard TD pass to Santana Moss. But Matt Bryant tied it at 17-17 with a 53-yard field goal and Michael Turner’s 13-yard touchdown with 2:46 left gave the Falcons the lead.

The best teams find a way to get it done.

“It’s the first time since I’ve been here that we’re just going out there and expecting to win,” White said.

That’s five out of five. And this weekend, the Falcons were the city’s shining light.

By Jeff Schultz

EARLIER: Short Takes: Gonzalez, Bryant and no RG3 key Falcons’ win

228 comments Add your comment

Birdman

October 7th, 2012
9:23 pm

Hey Jeff, on the caption of the Julio picture, he’s in his second season. Not a rookie. Other than that, excellent article! Nice to see the Birds flying high.

BravesFan79

October 7th, 2012
9:24 pm

As a pure Atlanta sports fan…. we NEEDED this victory today, at least something went right. Still cant believe after 162 games, it all came down to 1 lousy game. Btw… Cardinals will beat the Nats, but i cant watch baseball right now so not sure who won today yet.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

October 7th, 2012
9:32 pm

@Supes

How many in January?

Just spread a rumor that the 1st round of the playoffs start next week and CHOKE will go into Meltdown mode………..

HA HA :)

Answer This

October 7th, 2012
9:33 pm

You mean JSS suck boy crybaby troll who runs to Schultz when all the kids chump him? Yea that same troll!

Voice of Reason

October 7th, 2012
9:36 pm

CHOKE? Hello, CHOKE the JOKE? You alive? Or have you cowered into the hole you live in?

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

October 7th, 2012
9:36 pm

If the Falcants are struggling to win 4th quarter games vs 1-4 Carolina and 2-3 Redskins, what’s going to happen when they face the elites.

They will get blown out. There won’t be any 4th quarter comebacks.

CHOKE is still the JOKE he has always been. Beat up on the basement

dwellers and Meltdown vs the Elite teams.

Nothing new here folks.

HA HA :)

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

October 7th, 2012
9:37 pm

Is it the 1st round of the playoffs yet?

It can’t be because CHOKE plays next week………..

HA HA :)

Voice of Reason

October 7th, 2012
9:38 pm

Ah, you are back, and as utterly stupid as ever.

USMC

October 7th, 2012
9:42 pm

“USMC is a Bookman homer….Dawg fan my arse….never seen you on sports blog before but hangs with the libtards frequently.”–WTF

LOL! That is hilarious. I don’t care how ignorant you are. That’s funny!

I actually GRADUATED from UGA…. so I would say that I am pretty much a Bulldog fan, there Hard Charger. LOL!

I don’t live on sports blogs, sorry, but I have a little bit of a REAL life.
You are funny though, keep us laughing!

agent7g

October 7th, 2012
9:42 pm

You keep telling yourself that ol’ “Chokey”. Comeback wins don’t just happen and there are no more elite teams. Any given Sunday jackhole.

Answer This

October 7th, 2012
9:45 pm

Tell you what bloggers sad life when someone braga about blogging for 5 years like you work here! You stupid sack of dogpoo JSS…what fool would blog for 5 years on a Teams site that they profess to dislike!? You are one dumbangus! Like I keep telling you its not a coincidence that no one appreciates your garbarge here. The Natuon dislikes you, your mom and dad dislikes you…heck the only person that has some sort of morbid like for you is Schultz….kind of like feeding that stray cat in the neighborhood….he wont ban you so you keep coming back so he must really be your Father (Vader voice) and not me!.
Anyway good teams like this keep doing exactly this….finding ways to win when peiple have bad days ( if you consider 300+ 2 touchdown) a bad day! This team keeps pushing and are aiming for a goal! Turner is getting his touches and at the end of the game when we need a big running game he is giving us a decent running game…cant complain! Our D looked really good today….again! And what can we say about special teams and our kicker! Wow 51 yarder outside in the rain! Nice. The Birds come back to the nest next week against the Raiders…..lets stay healthy get another win and look good going into the bye week!

Big Lou

October 7th, 2012
9:53 pm

Subpar start to the season?

I remember why I don’t post on these blogs.

Answer This

October 7th, 2012
9:57 pm

Yea I know I have typos…..you try typing on this phone with these hands! Lol. Rise Up!

Gymini

October 7th, 2012
9:58 pm

Don’t get too excited by the Falcons just yet. They have a tough next few games coming up, which will show if they real or not. Phil, Dal, N.O. & Ari, potentially 4 losses. Even the Raiders game will not be a cake walk. They definitely should walk away with the division.

JSS

October 7th, 2012
9:59 pm

Answering you question…

atlfalconsfan0125
October 7th, 2012
7:43 pm

“@JSS, as you probably know, this Falcons team is far from perfect and could easily be 3-2 or 2-3. What do you think they need to change to see some post season success? Do you think its even possible for this squad to win in the playoffs? The most glaring problem that I see with this team is the Run D.”
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Will you have your arms around cusp of what their problems will be once they reach the playoffs, that is run defense. I’ve been flogged on these blogs since day one because I believe that it is the way that you beat them. In the regular season, teams will tend to maintain some level of offense balance, however as the Giants and the Texans showed in the post season, if you know that it is a teams weakness go after it… The thing that makes them vulnerable is that the three teams who are starting to separate themselves within their divisions (San Francisco, Chicago, and Minnesota) all have extremely proficient running games.

In terms of the offense, fans are going to see the same thing that happened coincidentally 2 2003 Kansas City Chiefs, they were team that could throw the ball vertically and intermediately. They also had Priest Holmes at the zenith of his career. So despite the 2 passes “deep,” they’ve still not made teams fear their deep game… The saving grace has been Gonzalez in the 10 to 20 yard range. As far as Matt Ryan and playoffs, there is a danger of the overreaction for quote unquote explosive plays. It is too late to improve personnel and by that I mean the interior lines both offensive and defensive. So you have to count on scheme. That’s only worked for one team (where it seemed just to really lacked talent), the injury depleted 2010 Green Bay Packers during their run. If the throws 52 times in a playoff game, they’ll be going home. Come the playoffs they must have run-pass balance otherwise they’ll be courting disaster…

So the short answer is they must keep things in third and very long defensively (plays to the scheme). They have to pray that they don’t see a team with 2 legitimate tight-ends for a quarterback that make the safeties commit to pass coverage. And they must hope that teams do not commit to run to their middle or their right.

DawgNole

October 7th, 2012
10:03 pm

Answer This
October 7th, 2012
9:45 pm

And what can we say about special teams and our kicker! Wow 51 yarder outside in the rain! Nice.
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That was a 53-yarder–all the more impressive under those conditions.

DawgNole

October 7th, 2012
10:07 pm

Matt “CHOKE” Ryan
October 7th, 2012
9:37 pm

Is it the 1st round of the playoffs yet?

It can’t be because CHOKE plays next week………..

HA HA

Voice of Reason
October 7th, 2012
9:38 pm

Ah, you are back, and as utterly stupid as ever.
________________________

And as blatant a liar as ever. Wonder if he’ll tell the blog how he posted earlier today that Vick already had beaten the Steelers. A stupid coward and liar–and yet he’s allowed to continue posting his BS. Sickening.

FalconsFans

October 7th, 2012
10:08 pm

Choke, What elite teams? The Eagles NO. The Cowboys NO. The Giants NO. Who the Saints ABSOLUTELY NO. Funny how Manning, Newton and RG3 were all going to beat us down, but guess what, here we are 5-0 and MV7 is still fumbling in Philly.

FalconsFans

October 7th, 2012
10:09 pm

Matt Ryan 13 TD passes
MV7 12 turnovers

Eagles should be 1-4

DawgNole

October 7th, 2012
10:10 pm

Hey, let’s don’t overlook the performance of the Falcons OL. Gotta give major props to those guys for enabling the immobile Ryan to put up such awesome numbers so far this season.

FALCON FAN

October 7th, 2012
10:17 pm

jhartford…last time I checked the QB has a helmet and pads…the hit wasn’t helmet to helmet…COME ON MAN!!!

Dudley Dooright

October 7th, 2012
10:21 pm

Good column Jeff…..Even losing and being in the game would have been better than the Sat. nite disaster…..But, WE WON a game….No being outplayed and outcoached and no infield flies…..Tony G. is THE MANNNNN, YEAH!!!!!!

Tami

October 7th, 2012
10:22 pm

So far, so good. A fun way to start the season, and curb the Braves Blues. I certainly hope they can keep it together and stay under 3 or 4 (…or even LESS) in the loss column overall by regular season’s end. It’ll be fun to see how they handle Oakland next week before going into their bye. Well done, Falcons! Rising up BIG TIME!

Virginian

October 7th, 2012
10:25 pm

Enjoyed the Birds in person today. They overcame a couple of big plays and gutted it out. Skins fans/stadium were deflated after Cundiff’s miss. Matt Bryant’s bomb was huge. Great win on the road. (PS – Dateline should be Landover, Md., not Washington, D.C.)

DawgNole

October 7th, 2012
10:29 pm

Tami
October 7th, 2012
10:22 pm

So far, so good. A fun way to start the season, and curb the Braves Blues. I certainly hope they can keep it together and stay under 3 or 4 (…or even LESS) in the loss column overall by regular season’s end. It’ll be fun to see how they handle Oakland next week before going into their bye. Well done, Falcons! Rising up BIG TIME!
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We can only hope that it’ll be fun next week. Definitely a trap game–coming home from a big, emotional road win to face an underachieving Raider team, with a bye week on the horizon. The benefits of victory next week would be enormous.

Dickelsby

October 7th, 2012
10:40 pm

Wow! What looked like a lost weekend was found!!!! Thank you comeback Falcons…This is going to be FUN!!!!!!!!

Cobb Dawg

October 7th, 2012
10:46 pm

Championship teams find a way to win. Losing programs find a way to lose. Good enough, Falcons. Same-ole-same-ole, Dawgs.

BlondAlto

October 7th, 2012
10:55 pm

woohoo! Thanks Falcons! Loved the headline on this article. Loved the tone of the articel (as well as Jeff’s about the debacle that was the Wild Card game). Thanks for the smile, Falcons AND Jeff!

Mike "CHOKE" Dogs To Death

October 7th, 2012
10:56 pm

The Falcons are 5-0 because of Matt Ryan.

The Eagles are 3-2 despite Mike Vick.

HA HA :)

Answer This

October 7th, 2012
10:57 pm

Thats what I am talking about DawgNole! I feel you getting excited man and I see it in your post……we are all in! You are part of the Nation and I know frustration got the better of you over the years! But this season is for fans like you…..Rise Up Dawg!

Falcon James

October 7th, 2012
10:57 pm

These Saint fan crack me up. They all in denial. They come in here talking smack about a UNDEFEATED team when they team is what? Oh yeah, they OhFur!! So what if they were given a Super Bowl. It amazing you don’t hear the Steelers fans talking about they ring. Oh wait, they have 6 of them. Or what about the Patriots? The Saint are the only Super Bowl winner with a asterisk. The only thing the Saint going to win this year is the 2013 number 1 draft pick. At least they going to come out of this season with one upside.

Falcons: Play 60

October 7th, 2012
11:03 pm

“but I’ve been 9-0 and lost in the first round of the playoffs [in Kansas City in 2003]”

same thoughts Tony G, a few years ago I watched a #1 seeded Falcons team get the beat down against the eventual Super Bowl champs. This record don’t mean crap if they can’t put it to use in the playoffs

Giggs

October 7th, 2012
11:04 pm

Too all of you whining babies: SHUTTY

Giggs

October 7th, 2012
11:04 pm

And TO all of you whining babies: SHUTTY

Kane337

October 7th, 2012
11:08 pm

Thumbs down to the Braves, Dawgs, and Jackets.
Thumbs up to the Falcons! 5-0

1990_Champs_GT

October 7th, 2012
11:09 pm

Not sure what it is about Ryan this year, but I feel that he will lead us to victory every week. He’s been the field general that we’ve been waiting for him to become. Watch Brady or the Mannings. Ryan has become a very good QB.

If they win that first playoff game, something tells me he’ll become a great one in February!

Answer This

October 7th, 2012
11:09 pm

@ Falcon James
if I am correct they wont get that #1 pick either….someone correct me if I am wrong…..but I think the commissh took that pick with bounty gate! However it looks like they might get off the loser bus tonight! I hope not….but its looking good for them so be prepared for the Troll of all Trolls STB4

Keith

October 7th, 2012
11:15 pm

Jeff,

Why do you expect anything but negativity on this blog? Isn’t that the way it almost always is on here for the majority of the time?

Any win on the road in the NFL is a good one. Falcons are definitely not the greatest team in the NFL or probably even the NFC, but they have the potential to be.

I attended the Braves game last Friday. For those 3 hours, I forgot about that horrific game. Go BIRDS! :)

Keith

October 7th, 2012
11:15 pm

*those 3 hours of the Falcons game* i meant

meme

October 7th, 2012
11:17 pm

RGIII GOT SPOONED

Keith

October 7th, 2012
11:18 pm

For the 3 hours of the Falcons game….made me forget the Braves game.

There…need to be clearer. :)

Keith

October 7th, 2012
11:18 pm

Re: meme

Yes, he DID!

Ryder

October 7th, 2012
11:28 pm

Falcons need to get back to dominating opponents, the past few games they have looked skittish against the running game, perhaps that had a lot to do with facing running QBs….

…Improved job of pass protection for Matt Ryan, who continues to show great accuracy in his passes. Next week’s game against Oakland cannot be taken lightly and going into the bye week with at least a 4 game lead will be a must considering they will be facing high quality opponents (Phi, Dal, NO, Arizona) going forward.

thomas smith

October 7th, 2012
11:32 pm

i kept waiting for a ref to call the infield fly rule on a punt if the redskins had fumbled on a punt return.also if fredi gonzales was as good as tony gonzales at doing his job the braves would have won their division running away.

Lonnie smith

October 7th, 2012
11:37 pm

To USMC…This is a Falcons article Dummy. Chipper also has a World Series Championship and is going to Hall of Fame. Loser!

Resilience is what I saw today. Go Falcons!

falconsrus

October 7th, 2012
11:44 pm

LOL at Brew Dreesus “we finally put together a complete team effort” You know he includes the refs in that deal

Thomas Brown

October 8th, 2012
12:03 am

Jeff Schultz : Steve Spurrier should take a lesson from Mark Richt ?

Where is your blog AFTER the game about that Jeff Schultz ?

CUPCAKES : We now return you to our quest for the most CUPCAKES on any schedule in the history of man. Thank you Greg McGarity. Kentucky is next. For beating 5 unranked teams and for being schooled in the blow-out loss to Steve Spurrier 7-35, we’re ranked # 14 in the AP Poll. Obviously, a loss to Florida would drop us down to about # 25. Spurrier called off the dogs, and emptied the bench at the 10:45 mark in the game, ahead 0-35.

Spurrier, who has averaged the # 20 Recruiting Ranking by Scout.com starting 2005 when he got to South Carolina, has a 4-4 Record against Mark Richt who has averaged the # 8 Recruiting Class starting 2005 when Spurrier got to South Carolina.

Ben Dukes says Aaron Murray, 21-12 as UGA Starting Quarterback, has got to move on – go – leave – quit, not be our Quarterback. Connor Shaw is now 13-1 as Steve Spurrier’s Quarterback.

# 87 NCAA Official Strength of Schedule for 2012, Greg McGarity has us with not one meaningful game at Home all Season at Sanford Stadium.

Aaron Murray was incorrect in his BRAGGING pre-game :
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“Right now it’s a huge win for us to beat the No. 6 team in the country, to go into their home and beat them. It’s another SEC win” Aaron Murray went on pre-game “leading to our ultimate goal of Atlanta and Miami.”
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NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP 2012 – OUR BEST SHOT
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2013, we lose the entire Defense and play Alabama.

Florida plays Schedule Strength # 9 in the nation, and the vols # 19. We’ve got schedule strength # 87.

I am not into rubbing their bottoms, patting their heads, holding their hands, and telling them how great they are or how many cupcakes they can beat from here on out, when they lay an egg 0-35 before Steve Spurrier empties his bench.

0-10 Aaron Murray vs teams who made any Top 25 Poll.

# 1….. 26-24… Win…..Tennessee #4 in 2001
# 2….. 10-24… LOSS… Florida # 3 in 2001
# 3….. 13-34… LOSS… LSU # 2 in 2003
# 4….. 10-17… LOSS… LSU # 2 in 2003
# 5….. 06-24… LOSS… Auburn # 2 in 2004
# 6….. 34-14… Win….…LSU # 6 in 2005
# 7….. 35-38… LOSS… West Virginia # 5 in 2005
# 8….. 14-21… LOSS… Florida # 1 in 2006
# 9….. 37-15… Win….…Auburn # 9 in 2006 seven (7) seasons ago
# 10… 30-41… LOSS… Alabama # 6 in 2008
# 11… 10-49… LOSS… Florida # 1 in 2008
# 12… 17-41… LOSS… Florida # 3 in 2009
# 13… 31-49… LOSS… Auburn # 1 in 2010
# 14… 21-35… LOSS… Boise State # 8 in 2011
# 15… 42-45… LOSS… South Carolina # 9 in 2011
# 16… 10-42… LOSS… LSU # 2 in 2011
# 17… 07-35… LOSS… South Carolina # 6 in 2012 eight (8) in row

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LakeDawg June 17th, 2012 12:25 am

“I do not have faith in Richt as a coach. I don’t think were destined to underachieve”

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kingdaddy July 2nd, 2012 9:56 am

“ If UGA loses to S.C. this year but wins the rest of the scheduled games, then makes it to the SEC-CG and is not competitive, then I see a major shake-up in our staff by McGarrity. UGA has to beat someone ranked this year in my belief. I don’t think CMR & CMB get a free pass this year just for beating unranked teams. This team has the talent to win, but do they have the coaching? Its too late to do anything this year, but ride it out…”
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JB July 2nd, 2012 10:02 am

“I agree Kingdaddy. Beating up on weak foe and losing to good teams ( not even great teams) is a pattern for the Dawgs the Last three years, And it’s not a lack of talent. You can read a lot of thing into Richt’s new contract, and I’m reading McGarity is not sold. Here’s more rope, and we;ll see.”
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Seems to me there are a lot of DISNEYdawgs.com posters who say my posts should not be allowed to be posted, who have failed to show up after the game to say I am right about Mark Richt all 12 years.

Thomas Brown

October 8th, 2012
12:12 am

This is NOT a Falcons’ blog when it starts out “Atlanta’s dark sports weekend : After another playoff cameo role by the Braves on Friday and the ugliness by whatever remains of Georgia and Georgia Tech on a college football Saturday” and specifically not after Jeff Schultz presumably the AJ-C could not come up with the monies to have him drive to Columbia, South Carolina Saturday night after his PRE-GAME BLOG that Steve Spurrier should take LESSONS from Mark Richt.

Jeff Schultz has stated repeatedly that HIS BLOGS are NOT LIMITED to any ONE TOPIC.

Now, the Falcons do have it going on. Great teams find a way to get it done, he states here.

In the meantime, the

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DARK SPORTS WEEKEND finds Aaron Murray’s home egged and rolled.
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Mark Richt is now 3 wins out of 17 games vs teams making the Top 10.

Thomas Brown

October 8th, 2012
12:22 am

9 of 14 Mark Richt LOSSES to AP Poll Top 10 opponents in his 12 years here Mark Richt’s OFFENSE averages 10 points per game, which includes points not scored by the Offense.

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3-14 UGA vs teams making Top 10 Mark Richt era
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You know ? You run in here bragging about Mark Richt making the AP Poll Top 10 in 5 of his 12 years here. He’s beat 3 of those himself in 17 games to-date.

Week

October 8th, 2012
12:39 am

The GA game was in honor of Ray Goff. That effort was one for the ages.

GO BIRDS!